Hans Wilhelm's Anook the Snow Princess
Book review by Dimitrios Sokolakis
The art of giving
It turns out that giving love--far more than receiving--is a potent act that rewards, eventually, the one giving it. Anook, the Snow Princess, living far, far north in a land of ice and snow, is a limitless source of love. Bad things happen to her during the story but, eventually, all her caring and loving turn back to her in a positive way.
In a huge palace in the north lives a mighty Polar Bear King together with his three daughters: Aki, Taki and Souvlaki… err, excuse my Greek… Anook. In contrast with her insolent sisters, Anook is quite shy and silent, a trait that is considered a weakness that could prevent her becoming a queen of Northland. Tuk-Tuk, the royal seagull, defends Anook against her sisters’ teasing, but with little success.
One morning, Tuk-Tuk makes a royal announcement: “Tonight the king will choose our next queen. He will choose the daughter who shows him the most love and loyalty.” Aki decides to write a poem to her father; Taki will sing a beautiful song; Anook, who’s rather shy, decides to catch a fish for her father.
After trying all day long, Anook manages to catch a huge golden fish. She, now, proudly carries the fish back toward the palace, but she falls into a deep, dark hole in the ice. She cries for help; Aki and Taki hear her and offer to help her if Anook first passes them the fish, which she does. After getting the fish, Aki and Taki run away, leaving their sister behind. Luckily Tuk-Tuk hears Anook crying for help and, together with some royal foxes, pulls her up.
Back in the palace, Aki and Taki are fully prepared for the big moment. Aki recites a poem (rather namby-pamby for my tastes), Taki sings a song, and they both give Anook’s fish as their gift to their father, who’s pleased. It’s now Anook’s turn, but she just whispers nervously “I love you, Father.”
“Is that all?” her father says. “You have displeased me greatly… leave my palace now.”
With tears in her eyes, Anook flees from the Palace. After passing through snow-covered fields, frozen seas and icy mountains, she has decided to lie down and sleep when she suddenly finds a tiny wolf cub shivering to death from cold. She hugs the little one to keep him warm, and together they fall asleep. The next morning, the tiny wolf’s parents find them, express their gratitude to the snow princess for saving their kiddo’s life, and ask her to stay with them in their pack.
So, Anook lives with them, learning to run, hunt and play as they do. Everyday Anook grows bigger and stronger.
One day, Anook spots Tuk-Tuk, who tells her that her sisters are, now, both queens and that they threw their father, the king, in a dark cave. Anook sets out to find her father, who apologizes to her for his treatment of her. Then a brave Anook and the wolves get back to the Palace and evict Aki and Taki. Her father now recognizes her queenly qualities. Anook proceeds to govern Northland in a good and wise manner. Everything is, now, set (well almost, since global warming might cause problems further down the road ;-) ).
Anook The Snow Princess strengths:
It is a typical Cinderella story, where good always prevails. Anook the Snow Princess communicates values such as: caring, solidarity, persistence and braveness. Special concern is given to the significance of teamwork and the way it can benefit each member of the team.
Economy of text and an attractive plot keep the action focused on Anook and the values that the story points out.
The illustrations give the story a lighter tone than the text might imply.
Room for improvement:
I would like to see Aki and Taki having a happier ending. I know they both were mean to their sister and father but, the way I see it, there is space for another value to be further developed in the story: forgiveness.
Anook the Snow Princess is a frozen story with heartwarming effects!
Read more of Dimitrios's reviews.
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